By David Grotto, RD, LDN
One of my fondest memories as a kid was sharing ruby red grapefruits with my big sister for breakfast. She would slice one in half, cut all the segments for me, and sprinkle just a little sugar on top. I would scoop out each segment and then, when they were all gone, tilt my head back and squeeze the remaining juice from the skin into my mouth. It was fantastic…sometimes I ate two halves because they were so tasty! Gosh…that was probably 40 years ago and I’d be lying if I told you that I’ve done that more than five times ever since!
I can’t for the life of me figure out why I abandoned something I enjoyed so much as a kid. Sure, I’ve had grapefruit and grapefruit juice a handful of times since then, but it has never become a regular part of my dietary routine. This is surprising to me, especially since I deemed grapefruit a worthy member of my book 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life. When I was doing a literature review on grapefruit, I discovered that one-half of a medium grapefruit delivered quite an array of nutrients and health benefits:
- It’s only 60 calories and supplies 100 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.
- Pink or red grapefruit contain more than 50 times the amount of carotenoids of white grapefruit.
- Grapefruit contains more than 150 phytonutrients, mostly flavonoids, which have been found to help the body fight against aging, allergies, infection, cancer, ulcers and heart disease, to name a few challenges.
So why don’t I eat it more routinely?
Back in the mid 1700’s, the grapefruit was referred to as the “forbidden fruit of Barbados.” I don’t really know why it was called that, but I have observed that not a lot of my guy patients eat grapefruit. Maybe they think it’s forbidden to them? I do think it has a lot to do with the image of the grapefruit as being a “dieter’s fruit.” And if you look at how the fruit is marketed today, it’s definitely targeted towards women. Check out this website and you’ll see what I mean. I rest my case.
So why am I writing about grapefruit if it’s such a chick fruit? I’m on a mission. My friend and colleague, Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, reminded me that grapefruit is a perfect fruit for guys, too. I remembered that one of the carotenoids that pink and red grapefruit contain is lycopene, which benefits the heart and those special parts—like the prostate gland—which often comes back to haunt guys later in life if we don’t feed it right. Grapefruit also contains the citrus flavinoid naringenin which was found to help repair damaged DNA in human prostate cancer cells. And speaking of the heart, I also found a study where researchers fed one grapefruit a day to 57 patients who had high cholesterol, triglycerides and went through bypass surgery. After 30 days those who consumed one red grapefruit a day showed a better lowering in total cholesterol, bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides compared to those who didn’t.
Check out this video interview I just did with Dawn on why guys should eat grapefruit.
Here’re some tips on adding grapefruit to your dining routine:
- When choosing the perfect grapefruit, choose those that are firm and heavy for their size but slightly springy to the touch of light pressure.
- Taste quality is not affected by skin discoloration, scratches or scales but avoid those with overly rough or wrinkled skin.
- Also avoid those that appear to have water-soaked areas or have an overly soft spot at the stem.
- Grapefruit are juicier when served warm rather than cool, but I think they taste better served cold.
- If you plan to consume grapefruit within one week of purchase, store them at room temperature. Keep them fresh by storing them in the refrigerator crisper for up to 2-3 weeks.
- Eat fresh by slicing the fruit in half, separating the flesh from the membrane and scooping out each section with a spoon. Not sweet enough? Just a sprinkle of sugar will do the trick.
- Special curved-blade “grapefruit” knives or serrated grapefruit spoons can be purchased, too.
Lastly, guys, don’t care about all that health business unless the food also tastes great. Once again, grapefruit delivers. Here’s a recipe you might want to bust out on Superbowl Sunday (by the way, next week’s post is all about “super bowls” for the superbowl).
Photo and recipe courtesy of gofloridagrapefruit.com
Yields: 1-1/2 cups.
2 TBSP. lime juice
1 TBSP. olive oil
1 tsp. minced jalapeno
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
2 TBSP. minced red onion
1 large Florida grapefruit, peeled, membrane removed, sectioned, chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
2 TBSP. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Directions: Toss all together. Serve chilled as side dish to barbecued meat, seafood and nachos.
For women only: Shhhhh. We both agree that YOU are the true caretakers of guys—no surprise here. As you know, sometimes guys just need a little direction and a big push. But I have an added incentive for all you ladies to serve grapefruit to that special guy in your life. Check out this research… Thirty-seven men and women were asked to estimate the age of a series of models in photographs while wearing masks that were infused with the various aromas and then again while wearing a regular surgical mask. When women wore the mask infused with grapefruit, they were closer to the correct age. But when guys inhaled the smell of grapefruit, it made them guess that the models were six years younger than they actually were. Hey, just wanted you to be prepared. Please, no need to thank me…all in a day’s work for the Guyatitian.